Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Lean In, Lean Out

     We have this really great, point-and-shoot camera that I got for Christmas a few years ago. Some of you may have already tuned out, because you believe “great, point-and-shoot camera” is an oxymoron. I understand. Work with me here. It’s taken hundreds of photos of our four kids, especially Presleigh (3) and the twins (20 mos). But, lately, the oxymorons are right. It’s not that great. It’s taken its share of hard knocks and now 9 out of 10 shots it takes come out just sliiiiightly… blurry. It leans toward blurry.


     Question: which way do you lean?

     I have this problem – an idolatry problem, really – that the Holy Spirit (often as channeled through my “thank-God-for-your-prophetic-discernment” wife) is working on abolishing from my life. The idol I’ve often come to worship is progress. If you’ve seen our one man show “That Day”, you can relate to a guy who looks back on his life and realizes if time were a bucket of paint, his wife and kids would be really pale and his job, wellllll painted.

     I lean toward progress. Today, I’m grateful for that leaning, as I read the opening line of Proverbs, chapter 12. “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” Some translate the word “ba’ar” as “stupid”, others as “brutish”. Hey, I’m not sure which one is worse, but I don’t want to be either. How about you?

reproof: rebuke, correction, 
punishment, chastisement”

     I’m grateful that I lean toward progress, because there’s something about me that doesn’t want to be stupid. Really, there’s something about me that wants to lean toward improvement and constant innovation. Can you relate? The hard part about this is here: “reproof” is defined as rebuke, correction, punishment, chastisement” – none of which is a very comfortable, fluffy, cuddly word, either. I’d rather lean out and away from punishment or chastisement, if I had my way in the natural. But, I’m more comfortable with those prickly words than I am with “stupid/brutish”. 


     A few months ago, we went through some of the greatest trials we’ve ever experienced as believers in Christ, as a ministry, as a family. As we walked through it, Cristine remarked how grateful she was for the presence of one particular guy in my life who prayed with us through it. He reminded me of the first lines of the book of James and summarized the “consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” part as follows:
“Trials are necessary.”   


     Often, leaning in to one thing means leaning out of another, by necessity or even default. However, when it comes to trials, leaning into trial seems the most honest way of leaning into Christ. The questions that remains are – are we willing to pay the price to “be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”? Are we willing to love discipline in order to obtain the knowledge wrapped in its precious core? Are we willing to love reproof in order to grow beyond stupid? What are some of the possible future benefits of this trial (if not at a minimum, heavenly rewards for perseverance), that make the current discomfort of the trial worthwhile?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3.5)”

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And, let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may become perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (Jas. 1.2-4 NASB)”



    PRAY: “Lord, grow my appetite for discipline and reproof so that I may become perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Help me to lean into You and appreciate You in the midst of pain, discomfort, and/or disease.”   



Putting a Band-Aid on Leukemia

     We’ve been faithfully serving, tithing, members at North Point Community Church for a long time now. We’re lovers and followers of Christ. But, we won’t be there on Wednesday night when Michelle Obama appears to talk about obesity.

     Because you don’t like the First Lady? No, nothing to do with whether we like her or not.
     Because you disagree with her political views? No, not because of the wide gap separating our political ideologies, per se.
     Because evangelicals were born to boycott? Nopety-nope.
     Because you don’t see the point in the FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States) appearing at your church, especially to talk on this topic? Yeah, that’s more like it.

     Am I interested in hearing what she has to say? Sure, I’m intrigued to hear what any high level government official or celebrity has to say about kids in our nation. But, having recently come face to face with the ugly truth about my own flaws and overeating, I don’t see why it’s relevant to me.


     Obesity is a spiritual problem, not a political problem.

     Okay, I said it. Call me a narrow minded bible-thumping troglodyte if you must. But, as God has drawn my wife and I near to Him during a recent extended fast, I came to a deeper understanding of my own depravity, my own lack of self control, my own need for a Savior: I feed my flesh with more gusto than I feed my spirit. I reach for comfort food when I don’t really want food so much as I want comfort itself, which my God has promised to me in abundance if I’d just reach for Him instead.

     Yes, there are great opportunities to witness to those outside the faith, but I’ll be doing it from the comfort of my own home as we watch it streamed online. Yes, I am grateful for our church being selected for such a media heavy event. But, relevance, please?

    Am I being a wuss? Yes, a bit, because you and I both know that getting into and out of our church parking lot (even with the thank-you-Jesus-new-bridge) is hard enough when it’s just our church peeps. God forbid, we should have to brave those throughways when it’s every Tom, Dick, and Harry flocking to that building to see the most famous FLOTUS in American history.

     The reality is, however, I think addressing childhood obesity with a program, a slogan (imagine: “Just Say No to Seconds”! “Read My Lips: No New Fat Cells”!), or a famous face misses the mark as much as a band-aid on leukemia. Obesity, especially childhood obesity, is not a merely a mindset problem, it’s not a political problem, it’s a sin problem. Without Christ, we are utterly lost and libel to do whatever we want, when we want, as much as we want. Have we forgotten Sodom and Gamorrah? Have we forgotten Romans, 8 verse 12 – “Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.”

     One of the most poignant truths that jumped off the pages of my bible during this fast was just that – “Aarron, you don’t have to answer the door when chocolate cake is ringing the doorbell.” I need a savior. Kids who are struggling with overeating don’t need a slogan or a t-shirt, they need parents and teachers who have Christ in their hearts and an abiding relationship with the Holy Spirit, who can train them up to live by the Spirit and not by the flesh.

     Am I wrong?

     I’m not pointing fingers at the kids – they’re just eating what we feed them. So, yes, a change in accessibility to certain foods and a change of mindset and practice by those making food choices for our kids could go a long way. But, as long as a way as it could be, it falls far short of how far God would have us if we would pray for and trust Him for true, penitent, sweeping revival in this nation. Do, yes. But, abide, deny the flesh, carry the cross, and pray for revival, so we can stop putting band-aids on cancer.

Love you guys.

AP

Pray.

One of the most awesome things about the Gospel is that through Christ we have access to God – to boldly approach the throne with freedom and confidence. [Ephesians 3.12] For ages, the wall was up and there was a curtain separating mankind from the Holy of Holies. But, with the crucifixion of Christ, the veil was torn.

Wouldn’t you expect us to pray more often? If we really knew how great and awesome God really is, especially as we read the Psalms and epistles, if we really knew how depraved and filthy we are without Christ, especially in light of Romans and Leviticus, wouldn’t we be lying face down before God for hours honestly and desperately praising Him and thanking Him for His mercy and grace?

Somehow, we get tied up in the mundane, the urgent, the noise and the dirt of the world. Can I just mention something to us who call ourselves followers of Christ? The gospel is for us, too. We need it everyday. Every hour.

This week, I got to meet with a guy who’s going through a challenging season and learning to pastor his wife’s heart while she begins to uncover many of the curses and judgments that have fallen on her through her family of origin and first marriage. She’s been lied to, cheated, and confused about her real worth. Her true identity has been warped and she hears the voice of her earthly father and ex-husband playing over and over in her mind. She’s constantly reminded of who she’s not and what she’s incapable of.

We all need earthly advocates that will approach the throne on our behalf. It is an echo of what Christ is already praying and is a bold, powerful harmony that accompanies the song of heaven.

I didn’t want to give him any “advice”. I just prayed as he spoke and listened for what the Holy Spirit might have for him. I pray that the words that came out of my mouth were from God and God alone – “Mike, as ‘high priest and pastor of the family’, she needs you to pray her through this. Pray with her and on her behalf.” She needs to know the gospel every moment of her day to shield her and defend her against the accuser who daily batters her esteem. “You are worth my one and only Son.”

It strikes me at this time – how many of us are actively praying for the people in our life who already know Jesus, but don’t experience Him every day? How many of us know people who are carrying the weight of false accusations about their identity, their “impossible” situation, their hope and future? We’re going to start doing something about it.

The first step is this – let’s admit that we all need Jesus all the time. Next comes “ask the Lord to reveal to us who He wants us to pray for”. Consequently, let’s gather together and corporately pray for those who need it. We have three enemies at us – the world, the flesh, and Satan. The latter comes to “steal, kill, and destroy”. Prayer is our battle cry – are we in the fight or distracted by life’s “worries, riches, and pleasures” (Luke 8.14)?

Starting in the next couple of weeks, we’re opening our (rental) home for “Pizza and Prayer”. Bring your broken heart, your tales of brokenness, and a desire to storm the gates of Hell and we’ll provide the pizza and time and space to pray. We’ll most likely start on Sunday, Feb. 6th, sometime mid-afternoon and will end by 6, but email us at prayer@seasonsoflifeministries.org to RSVP.

Scotty Smith – TGC

For now, I’d love to pass on a post from Gospel Coalition about a great prayer. We could all use a lot of great prayers, couldn’t we?
(HT: Matt Erickson)

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/scottysmith/2011/01/26/a-prayer-for-friends-weighed-down-with-various-burdens/

This is Tough to Read

I’m not looking to promote or slander anyone in public office on this blog, specifically with this post. I would, rather, like to present the opinion expressed by a co-laborer in Christ – Dr. Albert Mohler. If you’re a fan of our President, great. If you’re not a fan of this President, great. The intent here is to present one academic’s opinion on what this President is conveying regarding the tragic issue of abortion.

What does this have to do with discipleship?

As followers of Christ, we are called to search the scriptures and allow our worldview to be driven by our theology, not the other way around. As we consider how we think about abortion, we have the opportunity to influence those around us either toward Christ or against Him. Do we honor His name when we permit, even promote abortion? Evaluating what is happening in the world is part of the prophetic call of everyone who purports to follow Christ.

Shall we call evil good and good, evil? Or, shall we pray for wisdom and discernment from God who gives it freely and without reproach? Will we admit that abortion is merely an echo of our own depravity, a choice to end a life that another may live as they choose, unaccountable to the Truth of God and abiding guidance of the Holy Spirit?

This is not a political problem. It does not have a political solution. It is a spiritual problem and can only be solved by a spiritual Solution. That solution has a name and it is Christ.

Read on, comment cogently, pray fervently.

in Christ,

AP

http://www.albertmohler.com/2011/01/24/in-his-own-words-a-radical-pro-abortion-president/